Today on the list: Bribing Israel, the possibilities of precognition, the value of banks (it’s complicated), and the incredible shrinking withdrawal date.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window. Newer ones are on top.

Bribing Israel: Enhancing the Swag The breathless will-they-won’t-they coverage wasn’t quite as extreme this time, but there’s still been way more attention paid to the latest U.S. “settlement freeze” offer to Netanyahu than it deserves.

The Incredible Shrinking Withdrawal Date Going, going, gone! You can almost hear the announcer’s voice throbbing with excitement, only we’re not talking about home runs here, but about the disappearing date on which, for the United States and its military, the Afghan War will officially end.

College Costs, the Sequel Between the late 1940s and today, the inflation-adjusted prices of dental services and of higher education have behaved in a strikingly similar way.

The extreme pleasure of voting A political ad by young socialists in Spain shows a woman orgasming at the polls. Cue the outrage!

Marx, Engels, Mao and a brand new fridge The Chinese government wanted rural farmers to buy more appliances. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Milestone in Science: Severed Head Life Support System In 1908, Charles Guthrie was able to successfully amputate one dog’s head and sew it onto the neck of another dog, rerouting the blood flow so that the animal had two (somewhat) functioning heads, according to Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

ONLINE COMMENTS SHOW HOW NEWS SPREADS Online communication isn’t just about photos of cats; it also reveals how information and ideas spread across a network.

Feeling The Future: Is Precognition Possible? Most science papers don’t begin with a description of psi, those “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer” that have no material explanation.

Banks, what are they good for? The answer to the question, what are banks good for? is not at all obvious. Nor, as it turns out, is it the right question.

First Flag Made by Betsy Ross Actually Shirt for Gay Friend The Onion (i.e. not real): Historians at the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery this week of a personal diary from the late 18th century that reveals the first U.S. flag sewed by Betsy Ross was originally intended as a shirt for her flamboyant gay friend Nathaniel.

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